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June 6, 1980

Environmental and Public Health

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Environmental, Public, and Occupational Health, American Medical Association, Chicago

JAMA. 1980;243(21):2183-2185. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300470043025

Startling advances in public health contrasted with some less favorable developments during the 1970s, but the general trend was one of progress, including progress with some problems of major public health significance.

Immunization  Prevention of infectious diseases through immunization has always been a primary aim in public health. During the 1970s a strong effort by workers of many nations, which was spearheaded by some imaginative and energetic US epidemiologists, combined a decades-old vaccine, an approach emphasizing outbreak control and interruption of transmission, and improvements in vaccination techniques to produce for the first time the worldwide eradication of an infectious disease, smallpox.1,2There were other important developments concerning immunizing agents: Rho(D) immune globulin was licensed in 1968, and from 1970 to 1977, Rh hemolytic disease of the newborn decreased in the United States from 41 cases per 10,000 births to 19 cases per 10,000 births, a decline of 54%.3